Update for August 2013

I will be scarce for the next few weeks or probably longer as my father entered hospice care four weeks ago (cancer) and I am at my parents’ house helping out and being present.

A couple of things:

1) The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal is very close to print. My daughter and I went over the first proof last weekend (August 17 & 18) and made what we hope are the final changes. I will see the second proof this weekend (August 24 & 25) and if as we hope there are no more changes necessary, then it will go to the printer on Monday or Tuesday (August 26 or 27). If so, it may be available for sale by end of August or certainly the first week of September.

Thank you for your patience. I’m really thrilled with it. I will post all over the internets when the print version is ready, and an order page will at that point be available at Crab Tank Ink, who will be doing the distribution. There will be an ebook version but — fair warning — it will be a pdf because of the illustrations (the text and the illustrations are woven together into the story).

2) I still have many questions from the Cold Steel giveaway as yet unanswered. I do intend to answer all of your wonderful and excellent questions, but it will unfortunately take me longer than I had originally intended. So keep checking back periodically if you’re interested.

3) There may be some erratic blogging on writing, the Spiritwalker Trilogy, or other subjects as the spirit takes me. I will try to make announcements of things like:

4) The audiobook of COLD MAGIC (Recorded Books) seems to be available at Audible.com although I have had no formal announcement of its release. The narrator is Charlotte Parry. I haven’t heard it yet so if you do, let me know!

5) Last month Open Road Media released all eight titles of my oldest backlist, including JARAN and its subsequent titles, the Highroad Trilogy, and The Labyrinth Gate. These are books I wrote and published 20 – 25 years ago. I have to admit that while I have been really pleased to see ORM release the books in e-format, I have had a few reservations because the books were written two decades ago. While there is much that I love about the books, there are also some things that I now consider problematic and would certainly not write now the way I wrote them then. I am aware that a few readers have already found objectionable content in the books. In some ways I suppose I think of this as a window into how my thinking and approach has evolved or, at the least, changed, one hopes for the better. Not that problematic content doesn’t creep into my work today, also; as always, the work is a work in progress.

6) Finally, I am going to post a memoir my father wrote called Remembering Japan 1945 – 1946, in chapters. Based on his memories and his letters home, it is an account of the nine months he spent in Japan during the occupation; he was a Navy signalman, a 19 year old from a small town and a thoughtful and observant young man who was very struck by his experiences. The memoir will be linked from my Extras page for now, and I will post each time I add a new chapter.

Two Spiritwalker Questions, Answered (Names, and Endings)

As promised, I’m working my way through all the Cold Steel Giveaway questions. If you asked one (here, on LJ, or on Tumblr), it will get answered.

Both these questions came from Tumblr.


pretendtofly asked: Were you completely satisfied with the end of the Spiritwalker Trilogy? Do you think there could be more to the story or did you choose to tie up all the loose ends so to speak?

The actual written ending is exactly the ending I was headed for, so I am completely satisfied with the end of the book.

As a writer I tend not to “tie up all loose ends” just because in my experience of life the big conflicts and drama and politics and so on aren’t neatly tied up, ever. I like endings in which some elements are well satisfied and others are left a bit open, just like in life.

Could there be more of the story?  SURE.

There is a lot left to write about in the Spiritwalker universe. In fact, as a medium term project I hope to write some short fiction set in the world (some prequels and some sequels to the trilogy) and publish it as a collection. This isn’t something that would come out soon, however, as I’m currently working on a YA fantasy (aka Little Women meets Count of Monte Cristo in a fantasy world inspired by Greco-Roman Egypt) and a new epic fantasy trilogy (not related to Spiritwalker).

However, the Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal (with illustrations by Julie Dillon) is in production and I’m hoping will be available by mid to late August.


 sparklyslug asked: The names Beatrice and Catherine made me think of the two awesome heroines from Much Ado About Nothing and the Taming of the Shrew (because I’m a dork for Shakespeare, it’s true). Was that your intention in naming them? Did you have any specific idea behind giving them those particular names?

So you are quite correct.

The characters started life as Cat and Bee. I always knew that Cat’s name was Catherine and for a while Bee was Bianca because of The Taming of the Shrew.

However, one of the common etymologies of Bianca is that it derives from ‘blanca’ (‘white’) and that simply wouldn’t work for a girl of North African/Phoenician ancestry.

By contrast, two common etymologies for Beatrice are that it comes from “beatus” “happy” or “blessed” and/or from Viator which means a voyager. Those both seemed far more appropriate while still leaving Bee as her nickname.

Catherine is generally understood to come from a Greek root, meaning “pure,” but there is another etymology that suggests the name comes from the goddess Hecate who is, among other things, goddess of the crossroads (and thus someone who leads people to the afterlife).

For more about the inspirations for the trilogy, and how The Taming of the Shrew figures into it, read this post I wrote on “Inspirations and Influences” at review blog The Book Smugglers.

Penultimate Update on The Secret Journal Of Beatrice Hassi Barahal (maybe)

The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal

Words by Kate Elliott

Illustrations by Julie Dillon


The layout and design is basically complete and proofed. The printer is out of town next week but a proof will be run the week after next and then a printing. Our hope is that the perfect bound (not stapled) 36 page 6×9 chapbook will be available in mid to late August.

At the time it is available I will post here and everywhere and direct you all to an order page (the distributor is Crab Tank). Domestic US and International orders will be taken.

The print version will cost $7.00 US ( + postage).

An e-version will come out soon after. A price of $3.99 has been bandied about and I think that is likely to hold.

Update: “The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal”

I wanted to post another illustration but WordPress isn’t letting me upload anything here and I don’t at the moment have time to figure out why.


The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal is in production.

The 29 black and white illustrations by Julie Dillon are in and they are FABULOUS.

The layout has turned out to be more complicated than expected which is why there is a delay, but it is getting closer to being complete, after which the material will be proofed and then taken to press.

I do not yet have a link to an order page (we’re doing this all ourselves so my apologies) but I will link to it here as soon as I do.

I’m hoping that publication will be in August 2013.


The Secret Journal of Beatrice Hassi Barahal

Words by Kate Elliott

Illustrations by Julie Dillion

Layout and cover design by Joseph Eichstaedt

Editing by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein

Printing by ColorHausPDX

Distributed by Crab Tank Press
First Edition, 2013


How do cold mages cook? (Q&A)



garputhefork asked: I can’t remember if this was addressed in book 1 (and I’ve been hoarding book 2 until the last book was released), but how the hell do cold mages cook anything? (Not that one would actually lower him/herself to take a turn in a kitchen…)

Thank you for the excellent question!

The kitchens of mage Houses are separate from the main part of the house where the cold mages live. House members who aren’t mages may work/live in areas heated directly by fireplaces and stoves, and they would certainly be assisted by servants (who would like do the scullery work, etc). These separate buildings are where the cooking is done (then transferred to the main house eating hall for meals). The hypocaust systems warm the main house (with the furnace sourced far enough away from the cold mages that their magic won’t put it out). Also, cold mages feel the cold less than non-mage people do, so they don’t need it quite as warm as you or I might.

This is addressed tangentially in book one and directly in book three.

Also, regarding cooking: I postulate that, based on my reading of cultural aspects, cooking is almost exclusively done by women and is a highly respected skill. A woman born into the House who has no mage ability but who is a good cook and a good “house administrator” (remember the mage Houses might have anywhere from 50 – 300+  members) would be respected and valued within the mage House and could attain additional status through her cooking and administration efforts. Again this is touched on tangentially in book three, and in book two as well (although in book two it’s not within the context of a mage House).


NOTE: When I held the Cold Steel Giveaway, I received many many questions, here on this WordPress site, on Livejournal, on Tumblr, and a few on goodreads. Over the next two months I’ll be answering the questions one or several (related ones) at a time, under the tag #Q&A

This question came from Tumblr and was originally answered there.

Cold Steel Signed Copies

If you’re interested, there should be signed copies of COLD STEEL (and some backlist) at Powells (Portland), Mysterious Galaxy (San Diego), and University Bookstore (Seattle). Borderlands (San Francisco) has some backlist but they sold out of Cold Steel at the signing.

I encourage you to support indie bookstores if you can. Any of these stores can take your order for a signed copy and ship the book to you. They all host wonderful events and I thank them for hosting me and my co-eventers (Katharine Kerr, Andy Duncan, and Lilith Saintcrow).

Discussion Spoiler Thread: Cold Steel & Spiritwalker Trilogy

Books are in people’s hands already so time to open up a thread for discussion of Cold Steel and the trilogy as a whole.

If you want to make a comment, ask a question, discuss where I can hear and join in or where you know you’ll be able to talk to other people who have read the books: This is the place.

If you prefer to talk where I can’t listen in, this is not the place (and there are plenty of great places to do that, too!)(I also totally get the desire/need to talk about a book where the author can’t hear).

There will be spoilers for the entire trilogy.


A quick reminder of appearances, listed in full in this post:

University Bookstore Seattle WA 7 pm Monday July 8

Powells-Cedar Hills Crossing Portland OR 7 pm Tuesday July 9.


I won’t be online much for the next few weeks but I will check this blog every day–and you may find me on Twitter (KateElliottSFF) and occasionally FB (Kate Elliott).

Writing a woman who eats what she wants without being shamed (Spiritwalker Monday 2)

The fourth giveaway winner is bee-ww-oh-bee. She asked:

Why did you choose to elaborate on Cat’s love of food? I thought it was interesting that we have a heroine who actually appreciates food. Was this in response to societies view on female bodies or did you just write it as part of her character?


Have a story: Continue reading

Cat & Bee’s love; writing what’s already been written; back to SF? (Spiritwalker Monday 3)

It’s June.

COLD STEEL comes out this month!


RT Book Reviews has given it a Top Pick (4.5 stars) review in RT Book Reviews: “the conclusion is delicious.”

Here’s your weekly reminder that I’ll be doing events in San Francisco (June 27), San Diego (June 29), New York City (July 2), Seattle (July 8), and Portland (July 9).

The COLD STEEL giveaway is over (winners picked by random number generator), and now I have to start answering the amazing questions people asked.

I’m starting with three questions from winners Rima, Elodie (needs an accent mark above the first E), and Eve. No spoilers involved.


Rima Z asked:

My question is: where did your initial idea to make the primary focus of the novel about the relationship between Cat and Bea come from? Most people are either ‘plot driven’ or ‘character driven’, but I find that you have a really excellent mix of both, which means that at points the plot is independent of relationships (in particular, Vei and Cat), but still finds ways to bring together the importance of most of all the characters introduced.



Thank you for your kind words. I do try to balance plot and character (and setting) because that is what I love best to read. A central concern for me as a writer is in how people’s relationships inform and influence the choices they make. I always try to take into consideration and to develop who people are and where they come from in terms of how they fit into a family structure, a lineage, a society.

The story of Cold Magic came to me originally as an image of two young women in an 18th/19th century style setting who are sitting together in a classroom and looking out over a courtyard as a carriage drives into the courtyard with a mysterious visitor. In that image I knew already that the two girls were sisters (or cousins) who loved each other deeply and whose central relationship was with each other. From initial conception through final volume, the steadfast love Cat and Bee have for each other has always been the emotional core of the Spiritwalker books.

As well, I was eager to write a book in which female friendship/sisterly love was central, not secondary. I love books that treasure and foreground this kind of relationship and I’m always excited to read (and write) more of it.


Elodie asked:

Did you ever feel like a story you were writing (or parts of it) had already been written before by someone else, but without knowing if it was true or just a feeling (or which book it could come from )? If yes, how did you react?


I think that everything we read and experience gets churned into the clay out of which we shape our stories (or art or music or however we express our creative selves). Story doesn’t spring fully formed from the head of Zeus. It’s all linked up and bound in to everything else.

So if I write a love story I know that I am writing a story that in some ways may be like all other love stories or that may be influenced by specific love stories I have read, but I also know that my unique take on the story and characters I tell is something only I can bring to it. In terms of creating it’s worth remembering (in my opinion) that as a creator you are unique. No one else can bring the perspective you bring even to a story type that seems to have been told a thousand times before.

In a specific sense: Have I ever thought I was inadvertently paraphrasing or rewriting an actual book I had read, and yet wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing?

When I was young and learning how to write I at times modeled what I was writing on things I had read. It’s not quite full-blown imitation; I think it’s a normal part of the learning process in writing. [aka “I loved Lord of the Rings so I’m going to write a world with noble elves in it . . . and then there will be a handsome elf lord who falls in love with a human girl . . . ” No, I did not start writing that story when i was 16, what could you possibly be thinking?]

I continue to be influenced by what I read in ways I can’t always consciously process. So I do occasionally have to stop and look very carefully at something I’ve written.



Eve N asked:

Early in your career, you wrote SF; your later work (to the best of my knowledge!) is all fantasy. Do you envision going back to SF at some point?


Answer: I would love to write SF again and hope to do so in the future. I have far more ideas I’m super excited about than I could ever write in one lifetime, and because I make my living from writing I do at times have to prioritize those ideas according to how whether I think they can make me a living wage (I don’t write fast enough to toss off side projects, and in fact at the moment I’ve so heavily booked up that I don’t have time for side projects regardless).

I do see a resurgence of science fiction in the YA field right now, and I’m hopeful that may open up sf in book form again (SF is pretty standard on tv and in film and gaming now; it’s basically gone mainstream in the visual media.)



Copies of COLD STEEL arrived on my doorstep this afternoon.

I can’t read them all, plus I already know the story, and meanwhile the book is not officially released until 25 June 2013.

[The ebook will be released into the wild on 25 June but it is possible that the print book will start showing up earlier in bookstores just as the print copies of COLD FIRE did. So if you are buying the print version, keep your eyes open.]

Obviously the only thing to do is to have a giveaway.

I’m giving away four copies of COLD STEEL.

Here are the rules:

1. The giveaway will be open for one week, from today 20 May until 9 p.m. HT (Hawaii Time) on Monday 27 May.

2. Anyone can enter internationally.

3. To enter, ask me a question about the Spiritwalker Trilogy *or* about writing *or* about the science fiction/fantasy field and media *or* about something else. Everyone who asks a question is entered. There are no stupid questions.

4. Three of the copies will be picked randomly from all entries (here, on livejournal, and on tumblr). One copy will be picked at my discretion based on the questions themselves–but only one. There may be a few of you who worry about whether your question is good enough or clever enough or interesting enough: It is. And anyway, as per the above, lest you are still secretly fretting as I would be, three of the winners will be picked without regard to the question asked.

I will mail out the winners’ copies as soon as I get addresses (on May 28 if possible).

5. After you have read the book you can review it IF YOU WISH, or not review it, as you wish. This giveaway is in the nature of thanking my readers.

Just to clarify, any review should be the honest opinion of the reviewer. While I naturally hope all of you love the novel, I am aware that not everyone will, and reviews should be honest. However, IF you decide to review it, I ask (as per Orbit’s request) that you not review it until late June when the books are available.

Do not underestimate the importance of the social media conversation about books. The conversation is a fabulous thing, and it matters.


A brief reminder: Check out my book event dates (San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Seattle, Portland), and come if you can!


One last thing: YOU GUYS. Thank you for being the best readers.